Above: Autumn, 2019
I found these photos in my family album. They were taken on January 1st this year when I hosted a little tea ceremony for my man. Taiko was still just a baby and we had a cozy chaos all around. We still do.
When I first thought about what I wanted to do in life, I made my choice based on what I thought would be fun and interesting. I decided to study fashion. That was year 1999 and of course people talked about the environment but to be honest it wasn’t something that I – or the people around me – actively thought about. We were too busy partying.
When I was a kid we didn’t have too much money and I grew up reading glossy magazines and dreaming of being part of the glamorous lifestyle that they represented. I wanted a nice and easy life that included a chic job, traveling, lovely clothes, and enough money to afford it all. It was the package that was sold to me and I wanted it bad. That makes me one of those people who took part in destroying the planet.
Things have changed. I don’t think I could make a similar decision anymore based on just what I think is fun and cool. Fashion doesn’t have the allure it used to have; it has become a baddie because of the environmental crisis. In today’s world it is impossible not to be constantly concerned about the climate change and its consequences to us, and to nature. There isn’t one single company that isn’t aware of this, whether they want to or not. I am aware of it all the time. We all are.
This is no news. But recently I have thought about what the environmental crisis means to creativity. When I worked at a PR agency in London we promoted design furniture that was made because at that time you just designed stuff for the sake of it. To put your creativity to use. That is no longer cool. And that’s cool because we don’t need more design chairs that don’t have any other function than to look good.
It’s about time we all realize the craziness that is about to destroy us. But change is slow. First we created a lifestyle that was suppose to make us all happy, and then we realized we were wrong. How do we let go of those excessive needs that we have been feeding for so long? And what do we now do with that big bad machinery we built together? We cannot just throw it away because so many people depend on it. We need to change it and that is a slow process.
What does this all mean to my work? I think about it every day. What is right and what is wrong? How can I put my skills and creativity to use and enjoy what I do, without taking part in the on-going mass destruction? I haven’t figured it all out yet. But I have strong urge to live a life that allows me to express myself freely, to spend lots of time with my family, respect nature, and make art. I believe that a happy soul is kinder for the environment too.
Above: Me in my studio today
I started an art course at the Critical Academy last month to just get rid of the massive plug that is blocking my inner art pipe. For the first assignment I made a series of paintings titled Once Upon a Time in London Town.
I first moved to London in 2000 when I had just turned 20 years old, and left the city behind in 2009. Looking back I feel that I was young, I was often angry, I was restless, anxious, and just eager to get on with my life. I wanted something else, something amazing and huge that would make me feel somewhat worthy. I wanted to be successful and happy but I lacked the experience that comes from knowing what I really like, and who I am deep down.
I had amazing times in London and I made great friends that are still super important to me. But I also swam in some very dark waters feeling like a complete outsider to this world, and to myself. And yet I am so grateful that I had all of those experiences because I often go back to the London years in my head, replaying the tapes of the excitement and messiness of my London years while listening to Suede to make most of the revisit. What once felt sickening and scary now feels like a recording of something that once happened to somebody. That somebody just happened to be me.
Above: From the Once Upon a Time in London Town series, 2019
I just came back from Den Haag where I went to spend time with my friend Liesbeth, and to shoot her new catalogue. So many amazing things happened during the trip, and I think something just clicked in my mind while I was there.
I have a tendency to feel quite discontent, like I’m always wanting something I don’t have, usually work-related. I just keep moaning about wanting something different; more this, and less that, blah blah blah. And then In get really tired and stressed because it keeps me from enjoying what I actually do.
When I arrived in Den Haag we went straight to the woods to shoot and had very intense conversations all night, and when I went to bed I just couldn’t sleep. It was hot, I was sweaty, and my head felt like a washing machine spinning without any water in it. And then suddenly – bling – a thought came to me: I am content. I am OK with everything, this is a good place to be in my life right now. I fell asleep and I’ve felt awesome ever since. All that unneeded discontent just melted away.
I am here in my new studio right now. This is my garden and I’m going to water it, and then I’m going to enjoy the bloom.
I saw this in Liesbeth’s atelier and that’s when it hit me: I want to stand by my choices.
Above: Taiko in August 2019
One of the nicest thing about my job is meeting new people and getting to visit their lives and thoughts for a brief moment. It gives me new perspectives, it inspires, and it has definitely influenced who I am today.
One of the hardest thing when I started, was to step into other people’s territories, to get close to people either with with my camera or with my questions. Breaking those boundaries made me feel like an invader.
I can happily say that those worries are long gone. I feel no shame sticking my lens close to someone’s face or digging deep with my questions. I believe that a successful encounter is never just about the subject and always about life and human experience. And sometimes what started as work turns into a friendship.
A few years back I met Nina when I photographed her for the Helsinki – People Make the City book. She is one of the two founders of Nord-T, an organic tea company. Last week Nina invited me over to Fiskars, a little artisanal village about one and half hours drive away from Helsinki, where she had just moved with her family to start a new chapter in their lives in a very old and charismatic estate.
I love it how light lingers in old buildings. I love the presence of the past, the little chips and knocks that tell stories of the lives lived before us. And of course visiting the countryside makes me dream of my own garden with a greenhouse, a new old home where I could retreat to with my my family to potter around and make art all day long.
I’ve tried many types of meditation to calm my ever restless mind and to… emmmm… be a good person who meditates. I know, I know, that’s not the way to do it but I did it anyway. And then, I no longer remember how, I stumbled across Jessica Snow. She is a Los Angeles based meditative storyteller and energetic alchemist – to quote her – and a magic maker who made me love meditation.
The thing is, she takes me right to the source of my own imagination, to places inside myself I didn’t even know exist. Her guided meditations are like ingenious daydreams where I connect not with just myself but with nature. And what I am always reminded during those journeys is that in nature everything is as it should be. It’s only when we (or me) interfere with that natural order that things get messy or weird.
I’m not even going to try and type down the adventures I’ve had while listening to her on my headphones. I’m just going to say that she is good. Really really good.
Above: A treasure box full of objects that I collected near the Arctic Ocean – each piece is perfect just as nature intended.
Summer, oh summer. It was a bit strange to surrender into doing nothing. By nothing I mean just being and enjoying ordinary life as it is, sans any special projects. But now it’s been three weeks and I’ve taught my son to eat by himself, read a few books, baked a delicious carrot cake, taken sweaty cycling rides in the woods, and visited many new neighborhoods and playgrounds in my home town. That’s about it.
Next week my little boy starts daycare and I go back to work in my new studio nearby. I have a few projects lined up and a strong feeling that something completely new is bubbling under. Exciting times!
Above: This morning in our kitchen
It is the festival season! I won’t be attending any this year but I came across some sneaky old photos that I took in Roskilde six years ago. These were all taken using my mobile phone and then edited with VSCO. I can almost smell the blend of beer and dirty grass, and feel the sun tingling on my skin.
My friend Maritta is a sculptor, painter, and a spiritual being. Her home and greenhouse atelier are both filled with beautiful objects, charming energy, and magical light. I visited Maritta’s house a few days ago and when I saw her beautiful flower arrangements, I had to dig out my camera.
Photography: Laura Iisalo
I’m on holiday. That means that I’m not working on any commissions in July because I’ll be reading, painting, playing with my boys, and chilling. I just dug out these two paintings from last summer: portraits of our two dogs. They turned out so bad that I think they are quite successful. That’s the thing – and it’s not the first time I write this – mistakes are good. Daring to produce stuff by trial and error is great.
This is kind of sad but looking back it feels like the second I graduated in arts school I lost a big chunk of my creative force. I wanted to be established and professional, and I succeeded in it too. But I lost something really really important: the playful side of me that just wants to create out of curiosity, because drawing and painting makes me feel like myself.
But now, finally! I feel like I’m out of that horrid rut, back to enjoying doing stuff just for the sake of it. That feels really good.
Above: Lulu and Jekku, 2018
The sketch of the day is called Once Upon a Time in London Town.
Here are some more photos of the printmaking workshop I took part in a while ago. I had to revisit an old subject – the kneeling, screaming women – to get it out of my system.
I have a fascination about studios and workspaces, and it’s a shame that people usually only see the end-result – the finished artwork – when the process and the surroundings are just as relevant and interesting. All those paint splatters, tubes and stains. Oh my.
I spent one month without sourcing inspiration. That means no blogs, no social media, no Pinterest, no lifestyle magazines. I spent that time painting, reading books, trying printmaking, writing tanka poems and my blog, and just being. I also traveled to Holland and was inspired by the dunes in Den Haag, cheesy omelettes and beautiful old tiles.
I did this because I am addicted to the things listed above. I could just daydream looking at other people’s beautiful homes, art they create, and the lives they live. But I’ve noticed that for the sake of my own well-being I rather live my own life in my own way than let outside expectations influence my daily choices. I also tend to want more things when I see what I don’t have. But I don’t really need anything.
I’m not going to completely abandon the things mentioned. But I’m going to try and enjoy looking at beautiful stuff only occasionally, to relax and get a break. Not to replace self-creation. Let’s see how that goes.
I just spent a few afternoons in a printmaking workshop led by artist Pirjo Kankkonen. I was faced with my impatience yet remembered once again how my work (controversially) is often about trying to achieve something flawless when it’s the imperfection that makes stuff interesting.
For that same reason my first subject was myself. I’m trying to figure out who I am and what I look like instead of how I would sometimes like to be seen as.
I made four different versions and ended up liking the actual plate more than the prints.
A while ago I had an idea of a new book about motherhood. I wanted to photograph different kinds of mothers with their children, and have an open discussion about what it is to be a mother, how it affects identity, daily life and the relationship with oneself.
I did a test shoot with Milla, a super inspiring woman, artist, and mother to little Unto. I applied for a couple of grants and contacted a few publishers but that came to nothing. After some serious pondering I decided to let this project go. But here is Milla with Unto. It was a pleasure to meet them both.
I have a new fat and fabulous squirrel brush, and a pot full of Indian ink.
Above: Head, 2019
I just spent a week in Holland with my family. Our first stop was The Hague – or Den Haag as I prefer – where we rented a beach house near a large nature reserve. Not many people know that Den Haag is a great place for a beach holiday but it is! The weather was a bit chilly when we visited but that was fine – instead of swimming in the sea and barbecuing we spent our days cycling around the beautiful dunes and visiting the surf style beach restaurants nearby.
I wrote a few tanka poems just for fun, to get out of a word rut. I ended up quite liking them! Here is my attempt to translate them while maintaining the syllable count:
The two of us here,
in this world – once more,
It’s me, missing you my love,
when you are right next to me.
Towards the darkness
for so long I walked alone.
I hit the bottom.
And woke up. Light over there.
To it, I now surrender.
*I realized now reading these that I miscalculated the syllables in the last line of the second poem. Oh well.